After more than a week of unsuccessful attempts to rescue 41 labourers trapped inside a tunnel in Uttarakhand, the agencies involved are now working on an alternative plan. This new plan involves tunnelling sideways and boring from the top to create a vertical shaft.
Here are the top 10 points to know about this development:
1. The Centre has devised a five-option action plan that involves drilling from three different sides to access the trapped workers. Each operation will be carried out by a different agency.
2. Two tunnels will be drilled horizontally from the right and left sides of the main tunnel, while a vertical shaft will be drilled from the top. The workers have been trapped in a 400-metre buffer zone of the unfinished main tunnel since November 12.
3. The main challenge is finding space for multiple drilling machines in the hilly terrain and the time-consuming task of building motorable roads, which has already begun.
4. Currently, only one machine is operating in the area, clearing the way for a heavier machine. Workers are also constructing a ramp from the main tunnel’s entrance to its roof to transport the heavier machine.
5. Today, a wider pipe was brought to the site and is currently being installed. This will enable rescuers to provide a wider variety of food and medicine to the trapped individuals. Previously, only dry fruits could be sent in. With the new pipe, authorities will be able to provide more substantial meals.
6. An international team of tunnelling experts, including International Tunnelling and Underground Space Association president Arnold Dix, has arrived at the spot. Additionally, a robotics team from the defense research organization DRDO has also reached the site.
7. In the past week, several plans to cut through the 40-meter rock wall failed. These attempts also caused more rocks and rubble to fall from the unplastered roof, increasing the depth of the rock wall from around 40 to over 70 meters.
8. The most recent rockfall occurred on Friday when an American Auger drill, flown in from Delhi, was being used. The previous drill machine had broken down, halting work until the replacement arrived.
9. Initially, the plan was to cut through the rock wall and insert a 3-foot-wide pipe for the evacuation of the trapped people. However, due to repeated rockfalls, authorities decided to adopt a different approach.
10. On November 12, a section of the 4.5-km tunnel on the Brahmakhal-Yamunotri National Highway collapsed, trapping 41 workers. The tunnel, which is part of the Char Dham project, was intended to connect Silkyara and Dandalgaon in Uttarkashi.
The rescue operation is ongoing, and the agencies involved are hopeful that this new plan will lead to the successful evacuation of the trapped labourers.